Mother’s Day is coming up on May 11th, and in preparation the Save the Children organization disclosed its 15th Annual State of the World’s Mothers global report. This report gathers information on women and children in 178 different countries, and includes a Mother’s Index which ranks them in order of best and worst places to be a mother.
Ranking was based on factors including infant mortality rate, gross national income per capital, maternal death rates, and percentage of women involved in politics. The United States didn’t crack the top ten this year, landing at number 31. The U.S. has fallen significantly from number 30 in 2013, and number 25 in 2012. This decrease in the rankings can be boiled down to a few major factors, such as mother and infant death rates, and percentage of women in politics.
Taking a look at the top ten places to be a mother, it’s easy to deduce where the U.S. falls short. Finland takes first place, followed by Norway and Sweden. Scandinavian countries dominated the rankings due in part to their maternal death rate; less than 1 in 12,000 women are affected by maternal death, while women in America face a 1 in 2,400 chance of dying due to pregnancy related causes. This could be attributed to American women dealing with more high-risk pregnancies, because of more cases of hypertension and obesity.
In addition, American children under the age of 5 face a 7.1 in 1,000 risk of death, while the under-5 mortality rate in Finland is only 1 in 345. Statistically speaking, an American child is three times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than a child living in country from the top 3. The rest of the top ten in descending order are Iceland, Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Germany, Australia, and Belgium. These countries succeed not only in child and maternal health, but also in education of women and response to emergencies and disasters.
Among the worst places to raise a child was Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Niger. Majority of the countries in the bottom ten are in the middle of political conflict, which renders the areas unfit for raising children. Healthcare is also a factor in mother and child safety; many children and women die from diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and malnutrition-conditions which are largely preventable.
As a result, the infant death rate in Somalia is 1 in 7, while 1 in 16 women die due to pregnancy related causes. However, all hope is not lost for these countries. Last year, the worst place to be a mother was Afghanistan, but after providing education for female citizens the country rose 30 spots in the ranking and after providing women and children with basic health care, Nepal increased 60 places in the rankings. Bettering mother and child living conditions in these countries seems to rely on improving education and health care for women.